Victims Forum

Safety For Undocumented Victims Of Sexual Assault

human rightsIn all the controversial arguments that surround the issue of undocumented immigration, it is easy to forget one crucial truth: undocumented immigrants are people who live with constant fear.

When a person chooses to leave their native country for the United States without going through proper procedure, their choice is usually made under duress. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
December 9, 2016

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

The conversation about sexual assault on college campuses has grown widespread in the aftermath of the Brock Turner rape case at Stanford University where the victim’s powerful letter captured the nation’s attention. Since the case’s July 2016 outcome, school administrators and safety officials feel greater urgency to inform the public about how they intend to keep students safe during the school year.

Stay safe on college campusSexual Assault on College Campuses

It’s been speculated that United States college campuses grossly under report the incidence of sexual assault that happens on school grounds. A possible reason for the unreported assault: schools fear that full reporting of these incidents are a negative reflection of their campuses, which would cause their application numbers to fall. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
November 9, 2016

Sexual Assault Education in California Schools

Primary school years are an important time for children to learn not only about reading, writing and arithmetic, but also how to create and sustain relationships. What children do and say on the playground becomes their habits of making friends and exploring intimacy later in life.

Recognizing the huge potential contained in early education years, the California state legislature has recently passed a law to introduce sexual assault education for K-12 students starting in the 2016-2017 school year. Lawmakers hope that this new curriculum will not only prevent sexual assault at school, but start chipping away at the prevalence of sexual harassment in our nation’s culture.Sexual education improves

Sexual Harassment Often Starts at School

It may seem like a stretch to think that schoolyard squabbles are the root cause of sexual assault. But that is exactly what the research reveals. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
August 23, 2016

14 Myths About Rape

It is a sad fact that rape continues to be shrouded in stigma and misinformation in our society. Survivors of rape not only face physical and emotional turmoil following their sexual assault, they are likely to confront misunderstandings and outright lies about rape. These widespread misconceptions can make the healing process all the more arduous for a survivor.Survivor-of-Rape

What’s more, rape myths – which effectively perpetuate an acceptance of rape – contribute to our society’s already too high rape statistics.

It’s time to shed falsehoods in order to help survivors of rape recover, and to help protect others from enduring this traumatizing form of assault. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
July 14, 2016

One Victim’s Story Brings A Rapist To Justice

Last week, the country was stirred by the determination of one victim to receive justice for the crime committed against her.

Her courageous determination to stand up for herself and state the truth of her case sparked a fire in the hearts of everyone who heard about it. Her story has already begun to reshape opinions from the casual Facebook user to the world of academic administration to the United States government.Stanford Rape Victim Speaks Out

While we may never know the victim’s name, we are already well-acquainted with the name of her assailant:

Brock Turner.
Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
June 16, 2016

Yes Means Yes

It’s easy to make the distinction between sex versus sexual assault. Sex requires consent. Without consent, it’s sexual assault.

Although this rule of thumb is so simple, people continue to violate its boundaries. To help educate the public on consent, many No Means No campaigns have been swapped out for Yes Means Yes policies.

No Means No is designed to protect people from sexual assault, but can create ambiguities. It is built around the idea that a sexual act is unwanted, if an individual says no to it.

But what if somebody doesn’t say anything? What if they said yes before and then no? Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
May 21, 2016

Understanding Your Rights: Criminal vs. Civil Law

Surviving sexual assault is one of the most traumatic experiences a person will experience in their lifetime. Fortunately, our society has resources to help survivors overcome the pain, stigma and emotional turmoil of sexual assault, and the law is one of the most powerful tools on your side.

Survivors of sexual assault can pursue justice against their perpetrators through two legal avenues: criminal and civil court.

The Basics

A criminal case is when the government goes after the accused. The burden of proof, or what is required for the accused to be found guilty, is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In other words, based on the facts presented, there is no other logical explanation for who committed the crime.

A defendant found guilty faces punishment, which generally involves penalties and/or jail time. Since the state litigates these cases, the assault survivor has little to no say in what happens during the trial or what type of punishment is sought against the perpetrator.

On the other hand, a civil case is when one party sues another party for some kind of injury committed against them. The burden of proof for these cases is lower than in criminal proceedings. The judge or jury will decide if the accused is liable based on a “preponderance of evidence.” This means it is more likely than not that the accused committed the injurious act.

If found liable, the defendant (perpetrator) will pay money to the plaintiff (assault survivor). Because a civil proceeding is entirely initiated by the plaintiff, he or she will be heavily involved in the proceedings and help determine the amount of compensation sought from the defendant.

The Advantages

Criminal cases can provide a sense of relief to survivors by having the community and the eyes of the law recognize the perpetrator as the person guilty of committing the heinous act. Seeing that person punished for their crime can lighten a survivor’s burden. This may be especially true if the perpetrator serves jail time and is removed from society for awhile, unable to harm other innocent members of the public.

Like a guilty verdict in a criminal proceeding, a favorable verdict in a civil case can be a source of comfort for the survivor. The perpetrator’s guilt for the crime is effectively acknowledged by society. Furthermore, the monies won in a civil proceeding can provide the financial means to help a survivor recover.

Survivors often face a range of economic hardships, depending on their circumstances – such as a college student missing school and needing therapy, to a spouse losing everything after leaving an abusive marriage. In many cases, a civil proceeding is crucial to helping an assault survivor move on positively with their life.

by Jessica Pride
April 8, 2016

A Patient’s Right to Privacy Violated

Recently, 36-year-old dental assistant Luis Ramos was arrested on charges of oral copulation and sexual battery for assaulting women while under anesthesia. Investigation into the office’s surveillance videos captured Ramos committing these heinous and lude acts on 13 unsuspecting women, who simply came to have their teeth worked on.

Now we’ve learned the violations have gone from bad to worse because none of these patients knew that Park Boulevard Oral Surgery’s owner, Dr. Steven Podstreleny, was recording their activity on the premises, including in private exam rooms.

No documentation of written consent for video recording has been found for any of the women involved. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
March 18, 2016

Dental Assistant Charged with Oral Copulation and Sexual Battery

I’ve met and worked with hundreds of women who have been sexually assaulted and abused. I’ve heard stories of workplace harassment, harassment in public, and many of the women I often represent think it is their fault. They feel that because they drank a little too much and may have been “incapacitated” and so they are partly to blame. It is never their fault.

The accused is a calculated predator, and I’m looking forward to holding Luis Ramos responsible for assaulting women while they were under anesthesia, or as the law says “medically incapacitated.”

Dental_assistant_oral_copulationA $2 million bail has been set against the 36-year old from El Cajon, for abhorrent actions. To go to the dentist and wake up realizing (or later realizing) you had been sexually assaulted by an unsupervised staff member during a medical procedure is unconscionable.

There are now 12 known incidents from women who have come forward to tell their story. I’m currently representing a woman who came forward and told me about her assault, and if you have also, the police urge you to come forward, and I encourage the same. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
March 6, 2016

Uber Unsafe: The Hidden Dangers of Ride-Sharing

News Update: April 13, 2016 – Uber will pay at least $10 million to settle allegations that it misled passengers about the quality of its driver background checks. A district attorney in San Francisco, where Uber is based, led a lawsuit accusing Uber of falsely claiming it used the most comprehensive screening of would-be drivers available, citing that these checks did not include fingerprinting for past convictions.

Since its inception, ride-share services have revolutionized the way we get around. It seems like a win-win business model. Ride-share companies Uber and Lyft provide jobs for people with cars, help minimize an individual’s carbon footprint and lets you have a designated driver at your fingertips. All you need is a smartphone and a working debit or credit card.

These ride-share services hope that the informality of what are essentially taxi services will blossom into a bonafide social community of riders and drivers, creating new friendships and endless revenue. In order to realize this vision though, you need drivers who are charismatic and trustworthy.

Therein lies the trouble – how is a passenger to know how safe their Uber or Lyft driver truly is?  The unfortunate reality is the people they hire aren’t always trustworthy. The complaints of ride-share sexual assault, battery, robbery, false impersonation, kidnapping and even death are so numerous, a website was created to alert consumers on where and when these incidents occur. Continue reading

by Jessica Pride
March 3, 2016